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Beyond Damage Dice: Bows

Beyond Damage Dice: Bows

file5551296598744A weapon is more than the damage it deals. In combat, skilled warriors use their weapons to confuse, disorient, and disadvantage their enemies before moving in for the kill. Beyond Damage Dice ties unique maneuvers to weapons from both the core rules and the Midgard Campaign Setting, giving them a distinct impact on the battlefield.

The following maneuvers can be used by any character as long as they are wielding and proficient with the appropriate weapon. If a maneuver requires a creature to make a saving throw, the DC is equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice). Unless specified, these maneuvers do not deal normal weapon damage.


Composite Bow

Martial Ranged Weapon. Composite Bow, 100 gp, 1d12 piercing, 8 lb., Ammunition (range 150/600), heavy, special, two-handed

The composite bow’s unique construction gives it an incredibly heavy draw, making it usable only by the strongest archers. Characters with a Strength score of 14 or lower have disadvantage on attacks made with a composite bow.

Power Shot. When you make an attack with a composite bow, you may take a penalty on your attack roll equal to your Strength modifier. This penalty must be applied before the roll is made. If the attack hits, it deals additional damage equal to twice your Strength modifier.

Staggering Shot. As an action while wielding a composite bow, you may make a single ranged weapon attack. If this attack hits, the enemy takes full weapon damage and must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failure, the target’s speed is reduced to 0 until the end of its next turn.


A character wielding a shortbow or longbow can use the following maneuvers.

Pinning Shot. When you make an attack with a bow, you may attempt to pin a Large or smaller creature to a wall or surface by catching their clothing with the arrow’s point. This maneuver can be used against creatures without clothing at the GM’s discretion. Make an attack roll; if the attack hits, the target must make a Strength saving throw. On a failure, the target’s speed is reduced to 0 until the arrow is removed. The target can make another Strength saving throw as an action on its turn.

Distracting Shot. As an action, make a single attack with your bow. You intentionally miss your target but give an ally the chance to attack while it is distracted. The next attack roll against the target has advantage if it is made before the beginning of the target’s next turn.

Trick Shot. As an action, make a single stylish bow attack with disadvantage. If the lower roll would also hit the target, you automatically score a critical hit.


A character wielding a light or heavy crossbow can use the following maneuvers.

Shrapnel Shot. As an action, make a single attack with your crossbow against an unattended object. The attack deals double damage to the target. If the object is destroyed, it explodes into a cloud of shrapnel. Choose one of the following options:

  • Creatures within 5 feet of the object must make a Dexterity saving throw, taking 1d6 piercing damage on a failure.
  • A creature adjacent to the object must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failure, the creature is blinded until the beginning of your next turn.

Patient Shot. You carefully align your crossbow’s sights over your target. As an action in a turn that you have not moved, you may make a single crossbow attack with advantage.

In campaign settings with firearms, these maneuvers can also be used by a character who wields a rifle.

Hand Crossbow

Concealed Sidearm. Instead of making a Dexterity (Stealth) check to hide yourself, you may make a Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check—contested by an active or passive Wisdom (Perception) check—to conceal your hand crossbow. As an action, you may make a weapon attack with a concealed crossbow against a creature that has not yet acted in combat. This attack has advantage.

Rapid Shot. You rapidly reload your hand crossbow, throwing off your aim but allowing you to make an additional attack this turn. As a bonus action, you may reload your hand crossbow and make an attack with it against a target within 30 feet. This attack has disadvantage.

In campaign settings with firearms, these maneuvers can also be used by a character who wields a pistol.

For more options for player characters, check out Midgard Heroes.


10 thoughts on “Beyond Damage Dice: Bows”

  1. D12 for the Compound bow seems really powerful, based on a longbow only doing a d8. Staggering shot is a good mechanic, but I wouldn’t allow it before level 5 when the character would likely be sacrificing a second attack action. That being said these are great idea and it’s something that is really missing from 5e.

    1. I’m glad you like it! When designing this bow, I gave it a drawback (the Strength requirement) and a bonus (the large damage die). Since it still uses Dexterity for damage, a fighter’s slightly lower Dex score is balanced by the bow’s larger damage die, giving it average damage similar to a longbow–though it does have a higher maximum damage.

    2. The biggest drawback the 15 STR requirement for the most part means it will really only be used by a few classes. Barbarian? Doubtful. Valor Bard? Yes! Tempest/War Cleric. Yes! Fighter? Yes! Paladin? Doubtful. Ranger? Yes! Nothing else has proficiency. These classes need a hard hitting range weapon and this is the best option.

      This plus Sniper Feat with Max Dex. Would deal massive damage. So 15 Str 20 Dex Fighter with Archery. 7+Proficiency Bonus to hit. Snipe -5 and Bow -2 with a hit would mean 1d12 + 19 average 25.5 damage on a hit. Now that is an archer.

  2. I like the composite bow, adding this to my campaign. The d12 damage die is a nice touch considering this is a two-handed heavy weapon (-2 Init speed factor, coupled with two-handed adding another -2 Init speed factor for -4 Init.). Needing a 15 or higher Strength to use it without disadvantage is great, but I’d limit anyone using it with 14 or lower to attacks in the short range since disadvantage doesn’t stack. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to roll 3d20 taking the lowest to hit something at long range in my campaigns since it increases the odds for a natural 1 fumble…

  3. With the composite bow’s Staggering Shot, is the intention that you don’t get any bonus actions after it? Otherwise, why would you ever not deliver a staggering shot?

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